Regulation of polyp-to-jellyfish transition in Aurelia aurita

Björn Fuchs, Wei Wang, Simon Graspeuntner, Yizhu Li, Santiago Insua, Eva Maria Herbst, Philipp Dirksen, Anna Marei Böhm, Georg Hemmrich, Felix Sommer, Tomislav Domazet-Lošo, Ulrich C. Klostermeier, Friederike Anton-Erxleben, Philip Rosenstiel, Thomas C G Bosch, Konstantin Khalturin*

*Corresponding author for this work
59 Citations (Scopus)


Background The life cycle of scyphozoan cnidarians alternates between sessile asexual polyps and pelagic medusa. Transition from one life form to another is triggered by environmental signals, but the molecular cascades involved in the drastic morphological and physiological changes remain unknown. Results We show in the moon jelly Aurelia aurita that the molecular machinery controlling transition of the sessile polyp into a free-swimming jellyfish consists of two parts. One is conserved and relies on retinoic acid signaling. The second, novel part is based on secreted proteins that are strongly upregulated prior to metamorphosis in response to the seasonal temperature changes. One of these proteins functions as a temperature-sensitive "timer" and encodes the precursor of the strobilation hormone of Aurelia. Conclusions Our findings uncover the molecule framework controlling the polyp-to-jellyfish transition in a basal metazoan and provide insights into the evolution of complex life cycles in the animal kingdom.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)263-273
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 03.02.2014

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)


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